70% of our immune cells are found in our gut microbiome. This means that a healthy gut is important for supporting our immune system.

Increasing evidence is demonstrating just how important this connection is with the gut microbiome potentially playing a role in how severely people suffer from Covid-19.

When comparing the stool sample of those who suffered from Covid-19, the people who responded most severely had low levels of the bacteria  Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

The researchers also found that those who had recovered from Covid-19, the gut microbiome remained unbalanced (otherwise known as dysbiosis). A subset of these patients experienced persistent symptoms such as fatigue, dyspnoea and joint pains, and this could be related to dysbiosis of the gut microbiome.

Therefore, the research suggests that the species of bacteria present in the gut could play a role in influencing the immune response and potentially, influence disease severity and outcomes.

What is Faecalibacterium prausnitzii?

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a type of bacteria most commonly in our intestines. It is one of the greatest producers of butyrate in our intestines. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced when our gut bacteria digest fibre that our body is unable to digest. Butyrate has several crucial roles that go way beyond our gut and is important for human health.

When looking at healthy individuals gut microbiome, there is a high abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and reduced levels are associated with inflammation and alterations of metabolic processes which are involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Natural fibres such as chicory inulinwhich as a food source for our gut microbiome, might stimulate the growth of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in our gut.

What is Bifidobacterium bifidum?

Bacterial species belonging to the group Bifidobacterium are one of the first colonisers of an infant's gut. As an infant moves into childhood and then adulthood, the number of Bifidobacterium decrease in their gut however, they still play a vital role in health and disease. Due to their health-promoting properties, species of Bifidobacterium are often found in live yogurts and friendly bacteria supplements.

What does this mean?

Whilst this research is relatively new it could mean that we could identify individuals who are more at risk of serve diseases by looking at their gut microbiome and identify what species they have and what species are lacking. Increasing these species of bacteria in their gut might also be a potential target for reducing disease severity.

The research also highlights how great an impact your gut microbiome can play in health and disease and therefore, how vital it is to look after.

How to look after your gut -

  • Eat a well-balanced diet and include lots of fibre. Fibre can act as a food source for our friendly bacteria to help them grow and thrive in our gut. The fibre chicory inulin can be found in chicory root as well as certain supplements
  • Stay hydrated, aim to drink at least 2L of water every day
  • Keep active, try and exercise for at least 20 minutes per day
  • Get outside!
  • Try and reduce stress wherever possible
  • Introduce fermented foods in your diet as they contain live microorganisms that can benefit your gut. Sources include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, sourdough and kombucha
  • Try a friendly bacteria supplement!

Probio7 Advanced contains chicory inulin, a food source for Faecalibacterium prausnitzii as well as the bacteria Bifidobacterium bifidum

If you'd like to find out more, book a free 1:1 consultation with our in-house nutrition team.

References -  

Yeoh, Y., Zuo, T., Lui, G., Zhang, F., Liu, Q., Li, A., Chung, A., Cheung, C., Tso, E., Fung, K., Chan, V., Ling, L., Joynt, G., Hui, D., Chow, K., Ng, S., Li, T., Ng, R., Yip, T., Wong, G., Chan, F., Wong, C., Chan, P. and Ng, S., 2021. Gut microbiota composition reflects disease severity and dysfunctional immune responses in patients with COVID-19. Gut, pp.gutjnl-2020-323020. 

Verhoog, S., Taneri, P., Roa Díaz, Z., Marques-Vidal, P., Troup, J., Bally, L., Franco, O., Glisic, M. and Muka, T., 2019. Dietary Factors and Modulation of Bacteria Strains of Akkermansia muciniphila and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(7), p.1565. 

O'Callaghan, A. and van Sinderen, D., 2016. Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7. 

Lopez-Siles, M., Duncan, S., Garcia-Gil, L. and Martinez-Medina, M., 2017. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii: from microbiology to diagnostics and prognostics. The ISME Journal, 11(4), pp.841-852.